Connecticut’s craft beer culture often intersects with Connecticut’s cycling culture. Several cyclists are also craft beer drinkers and vice versa. Not only does Connecticut have a wealth of craft breweries today, but the state also has several bicycle trails that are safe from traffic injuries and fatalities. Several of these trails are linear parks, greenways, or rail trails (abandoned railway lines that have been turned into multi-use paths for biking and walking). If you are a fan of both cycling and craft beer then you’re in luck because several craft breweries and craft beer bars are conveniently located nearby or alongside bike trails. The reason for this is because several bike trails are repurposed railway lines and several breweries and bars are located inside repurposed mills, factories or train depots that were built along the railroad. There’s nothing like a long, scenic bike ride through the state… especially if it’s fueled by refreshing hops and carbs flowing down your throat. If you’re interested in taking your own “beercyling” tour of the state then here’s a list of some of Connecticut’s trails where you can do just that.
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (Southern Portion)
The Farmington Canal was once the longest canal in New England. Completed in 1835, it was used to transport goods from Northampton, Massachusetts all the way to New Haven. It was replaced with the more efficient New Haven and Northampton Railroad in 1847 before becoming obsolete in the 1980s. The first section of paved rail trail was completed in 1993 and it has continued to grow since then. Currently, the southern portion of the trail extends uninterrupted from Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven all the way to Lazy Lane in Southington. Breweries located within close proximity of the trail include Cheshire Craft Brewing, Counter Weight Brewing Company, Kinsmen Brewing Company, Witchdoctor Brewing Company, and Transcend Beer Crafters. Craft beer bars located alongside the trail include MiKro (located inside a repurposed Railroad Depot), Hop Häus (Southington location), GameCraft, and The Groggy Frogg.
Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (Northern Portion) / Farmington River Trail
Following a gap in the town of Plainville, the Farmington Canal Trail continues uninterrupted from Northwest Drive in Plainville all the way to Main Street in Westfield, Massachusetts. Breweries located within close proximity of the trail (on the Connecticut side) include Hopmeadow Brewing Company, The Brewery at Maple View Farm, and Cambridge House Brew Pub. Craft beer bars located alongside the trail include the Red Stone Pub and Plan B Burger Bar (Simsbury location: a repurposed Railroad Depot). There is also a secondary bike trail called the Farmington River Trail that was built on the former Central New England Railway right-of-way. It separates from the Farmington Canal Trail at Red Oak Hill Road in Farmington and then rejoins it on Route 202 in Simsbury. A craft beer bar located along this trail is Lisa’s Crown & Hammer Pub (located inside a repurposed Railroad Depot). Plans are underway to complete all remaining gaps of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail so that cyclists will one day be able to cycle uninterrupted from Long Wharf in New Haven all the way to Northampton, Massachusetts and vice versa.
Airline State Park Trail
At nearly 55 miles, the Airline State Park Trail stretches from Portland all the way to Thompson (with some small breaks in the trail along the way). The trail borrows its name from the Boston and New York Air-Line Railroad which operated along the same trailway from 1875 until it was abandoned in 1965. An air-line railroad was a type of railroad that was relatively straight, following a shorter route instead of longer, winding route. Breweries located within close proximity of the southern portion of the trail include Hop Culture Farms & Brew Company and Willimantic Brewing Company. A 3.5 mile spur trail splits off from the main trail in Hebron and stretches south to the center of Colchester which is a short bike ride away from Stranger Tides Brewing. Craft beer bars located alongside the main trail include The Tavern On 66 and Dexter’s Tunes, Tales, and Ales.
Charter Oak Greenway
The Charter Oak Greenway is not a repurposed railroad but it does offer a safe bicycle route throughout the Greater Hartford area. It stretches from Bushnell Park in Hartford all the way to Bolton where it connects with the Hop River State Park Trail. Along the way, it connects with shorter trails such as the Hartford Riverwalk, the Captain John Bissell Trail, and the Cheney Rail Trail (which lies on a section of the defunct South Manchester Railroad). Breweries located within close proximity of this trail network include City Steam Brewery, Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt, Phantom Brewing Company, Paddle Creek Beer Company, East Hartford Brewing Group, Elicit Brewing Company, 2nd Bridge Brewing Company, Labyrinth Brewing Company, and Urban Lodge Brewing Company.
Pedal for your pints! 🚴♂️🍻